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How the ESD and SDHSAA Ruined Football

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A year ago, when the idea of 11AAA high school football in South Dakota was being discussed, a lot of people were wondering if it would ruin the sport at the big school level.

They’re not wondering anymore – mission accomplished.

With the release of the first 11AAA football schedules this week, the seventh class of high school football for South Dakota was exposed to be the train wreck many predicted it would be.

To say this thing was flawed beyond belief from the start is an under statement.  The bitter, whiny types in the Eastern South Dakota Conference hatched the entire idea, upset that their ‘precious snowflakes’ weren’t dominating 11AA football anymore, like they had when they were winning eight championships in nine years between 1994 and 2002.

Despite that run of success, not a peep was uttered about a ‘competitive imbalance’ in the sport, at least not until the Sioux Falls public high schools finally broke through to win the last six titles.  The ESD’s stranglehold on the sport was over and they weren’t happy.

Knowing they had the voting numbers to change the landscape, they went to work to strong arm the South Dakota High School Activities Association to isolate the Sioux Falls ‘bullies’ as much as they possibly could.  When the ESD’s plan of a new five or six team class for the biggest schools failed, they settled on a compromise, the top eight would go.

But that created an entirely new problem for the ESD.  There weren’t enough of the ‘bad guys’ to fill out an eight team field, they’d have to sacrifice some of their own.  That distinction belongs to Aberdeen Central and Brandon Valley, although the Lynx actually chose to play at the 11AAA level, giving Watertown the chance to slither down to 11AA.

Once the new 11AAA eight team field was set, the good folks at the SDHSAA needed to issue the ESD an ultimatum: 11AAA or the ESD?  You can’t have it both ways.  But that never happened and now we have chaos.

A look at the 2013 schedules shows the two 11AAA ESD schools with just three AAA opponents on their eight game slates for the upcoming season.  Translation: Only 38% of the games Aberdeen Central and Brandon Valley play will be against teams at their level, the same teams they’re competing for a state championship with.

By contrast, two Sioux Falls schools, Roosevelt and Washington, will play 88% (7 of 8) of their games against AAA competition.  Why the ‘fuzzy’ scheduling?  Turns out, no one has the guts to put the antiquated Eastern South Dakota Conference out of our misery.

Whether they realize it or not, their actions are sending several messages to our kids about how to deal with success, failure, and adversity in life.  Extra curricular activities are supposed to build character and integrity in our youth.  Sadly they won’t find either here in the actions of the adults behind this travesty.

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